0.05% Chlorhexidine Gluconate Irrigation in Trauma/Emergency General Surgical Laparotomy Wounds Closure: A Pilot Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The Journal of surgical research






Acute care surgery; Irrisept; Surgical site infection; Wound closure


INTRODUCTION: Patients who undergo exploratory laparotomy (EL) in an emergent setting are at higher risk for surgical site infections (SSIs) compared to the elective setting. Packaged Food and Drug Administration-approved 0.05% chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) irrigation solution reduces SSI rates in nonemergency settings. We hypothesize that the use of 0.05% CHG irrigation solution prior to closure of emergent EL incisions will be associated with lower rates of superficial SSI and allows for increased rates of primary skin closure. METHODS: A retrospective observational study of all emergent EL whose subcutaneous tissue were irrigated with 0.05% CHG solution to achieve primary wound closure from March 2021 to June 2022 were performed. Patients with active soft-tissue infection of the abdominal wall were excluded. Our primary outcome is rate of primary skin closure following laparotomy. Descriptive statistics, including t-test and chi-square test, were used to compare groups as appropriate. A P value <0.05 was statistically significant. RESULTS: Sixty-six patients with a median age of 51 y (18-92 y) underwent emergent EL. Primary wound closure is achieved in 98.5% of patients (65/66). Bedside removal of some staples and conversion to wet-to-dry packing changes was required in 27.3% of patients (18/66). We found that most of these were due to fat necrosis. We report no cases of fascial dehiscence. CONCLUSIONS: In patients undergoing EL, intraoperative irrigation of the subcutaneous tissue with 0.05% CHG solution is a viable option for primary skin closure. Further studies are needed to prospectively evaluate our findings.